Coldest NFL games of all time: Dolphins-Chiefs wild card matchup could make history




CNN
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The Kansas City Chiefs are urging fans to bundle up for game day at Arrowhead Stadium as the team prepares to take on the Miami Dolphins in what meteorologists are predicting will be brutally cold conditions Saturday night.

As a mix of freezing temperatures, powerful winds and heavy snow are expected to chill a large swath of the United States this weekend, the two teams are scheduled to face off in the AFC Wild Card Round matchup in Kansas City, Missouri, for what will be one of the coldest NFL games on record.

Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. CT. The air temperature at kickoff is forecast to be around 0 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill a bone-chilling -22 degrees, according to CNN Weather.

Sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph and gusts up to 40 mph throughout the game will only add to the misery. By the game’s end, the air temperature is expected to dip to -2 degrees with a wind chill around -23 degrees, meteorologists said.

The current high temperature expected for Kansas City on Saturday is around 5 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which would be the coldest high temperature on record in the area for the date, according to CNN Weather.

The current record-coldest high temperature for Kansas City on January 13 is 9 degrees, which was set in 1982.

Weather service meteorologists are predicting “dangerously cold” weather in the Kansas City area through next week.

Fans fighting to keep warm in the stands Saturday are allowed to bring blankets into Arrowhead Stadium, where there will be warming stations and hot chocolate available, according to Chiefs officials.

“There will be a significant risk of frostbite for spectators who are not bundled up correctly. It takes about 30 minutes for frostbite to occur in wind chills near what’s forecast,” said CNN meteorologist Mary Gilbert.

But could it become cold enough for officials to cancel the showdown between the Chiefs and Dolphins? It’s unlikely, as the NFL has never canceled or postponed a game due to low temperatures, according to NFL communications director Tim Schlittner.

“There is no temperature threshold for cancellation/postponement,” Schlittner told CNN in an email.

However, the dangerous blizzard conditions forecasted in the Northeast this weekend led to the postponement of another AFC Wild Card Round matchup – the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Buffalo Bills.

The NFL in a statement cited “public safety concerns in light of the ongoing weather emergency in western New York” for moving that game from Sunday to Monday. The decision was made “in consultation with” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, the NFL said.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning in effect for the area through Monday.

“I’ve been in communication with @NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the dangerous conditions in Buffalo this weekend,” Hochul wrote on X. “In consultation with our emergency response teams, @BuffaloBills leadership and the NFL, the Bills game will be postponed to 4:30 p.m. Monday.”

Conditions for Saturday’s Chiefs-versus-Dolphins game will be frigid, but how does the weather compare to past games played in extremely cold conditions?

Green Bay Packer faithful cheer on their team at Lambeau Field in the 1967 NFL championship game.

The chilliest game in the NFL’s history took place on New Year’s Eve of 1967, when the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, according to the NFL.

The air temperature that day was -13 degrees with a wind chill at -48, according to the NFL. The weather was so cold at the NFL Championship game, it was nicknamed The Ice Bowl.

“The feeling of the air was like being in a meat locker,” former Packers fullback Chuck Mercein told the NFL.

“If you looked in the stands, all you saw was that steam coming out of people’s mouths,” Mercein said, according to the NFL.

The 1981 AFC Championship game held on January 10, 1982, was referred to as the Freezer Bowl due to below-freezing game day temperatures, according to the Cincinnati Bengals’ website.

Linemen for the Cincinnati Bengals, left, and the San Diego Chargers line up in sub-zero temperatures during the AFC championship game on January 10, 1982, in what was dubbed

Amid an air temperature of -9 degrees with wind chills at 59 below zero, the team defeated the San Diego Chargers 27-7 at the Bengals’ former home of Riverfront Stadium in Ohio.

On January 10, 2016, the Seattle Seahawks won 10-9 against the Minnesota Vikings during one of the NFL’s coldest-ever games.

The air temperature for the 2015 Wild Card game, held at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis while the Vikings’ current indoor home at U.S. Bank Stadium was still under construction, dipped to -6 degrees with a wind chill of -25 degrees, according to the NFL.

On January 20, 2008, subzero temperatures did not stop the New York Giants from beating the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in overtime at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during the NFC Championship football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The teams competed in the NFC championship that day amid air temperatures of -1 degrees with a wind chill of 23 below zero, according to the NFL.

Here’s how NFL teams operate when snowy or cold weather is expected ahead of games.

A snow-removal plan is required for each home club, and snow and ice must be removed from stadiums before each game, according to the NFL’s game operations policy manual.

“This applies to the field, stands/seats, aisles, pedestrian ramps, walkways, parking lots, etc. This also applies to the sidelines,” according to the manual.

The league’s policy states if there’s any chance of precipitation, fields must be covered with tarp on the day and night before a game.

“If weather dictates, heated benches must be available to both teams and activated two hours prior to kickoff,” according to the league’s rules.

CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward contributed to this report.





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